Gloria Bauai | Post Courier | 23.02.2016
A cursed generation is how pathologist Dr Sylvester Kotapu describes the fate of the people living along the length of the Angabanga River in the Kairuku-Hiri district of Central Province.
“The physical derangement of the environment, we don’t need an expert opinion on this. You go there, you’ll see: the chaotic flooding because of the buildup of sediments, the loss of food crops.
“But what’s more specific affecting the people there is the chemical poisoning coming about because of practice of a tailings management which is unlawfully deemed in the world,” he says.
Dr Kotapu had been commissioned by the Central Provincial Government in 2007 to carry out a study on the communities along the river.
He has released his report which was to identify the cause of peculiar diseases being reported by Veifa and Bereina health centres. Dr Kotapu’s finding was in par with other preceding studies which reported high levels of mine-related chemicals in the river system, biota and bloodstream of people.
It was concluded with the understanding that these groups of people have been exposed to very dangerous toxic chemicals believed to be discharged from mining activities upstream.
“From there we realised that high chemicals of mercury and lead and all that, was affecting the people.
“In one or two of the post-mortems that I’ve done, the brains, lungs, kidney, everywhere are full of these chemicals,” he said.
He said this was the result of riverine tailings disposal (RTD) practised by Tolukuma Gold Mine, located at the Angabanga river head, in Goilala district of Central Province.
RDT had been outlawed worldwide because it is considered environmentally unfriendly and socially irresponsible.
Dr Kotapu’s report said the decision by the previous owners since productions in 1996 has cursed the generations of Goilala, Mekeo and Kuni villages forever.
“Our people are actually cursed for life because of the fact that genes transfer from one to another by way of egg and sperm, the genes transfer.
“If there is a mix-up in the father, I’m passing through to the next so it shows out in the way of expressing whatever chemicals – this is cross-generational inheritance,” Dr Kotapu said.
The report claims that the chemicals have increased from the normal levels.
Dr Kotapu said this a well-preserved and protected process of genocide on the Fuyuge, Kuni, Mekeos and the Roro-speaking people along the Auga-Angabanga River.